Strictly Come Dancing fans are getting ready for the first show of this year's series in just two weeks time, which will see the celebrity contestants make their grand entrance into the famous ballroom to find out their professional dance partner. Many viewers have been hoping to see Neil Jones take centre stage this year and get paired up, but on Saturday, he confirmed that he will be remaining as a backing dancer. Remaining upbeat about the decision, Neil uploaded a short video on Instagram putting the rumours to rest. He said: "Hi guys. So we have had a fantastic few weeks of rehearsals and this week we finally met up with all of the celebrities– and I just wanted to say one thing - you are in for a treat!"
Neil Jones revealed he won't have a dancer partner this year
Neil continued: "Now, there have been a few rumours swirling around whether or not I will have a partner this year on Strictly, and I just wanted to let you know what was going on. Unfortunately, I won't be paired up this series, but don't worry because I will still be there every week in all the group numbers, in the music acts, and on It Takes Two – which I love!"
Behind the scenes on the first day of rehearsals
"I am really happy to be part of such a great show. And I just wanted to say to everyone thank you so much for all your kind words and your support. I can't wait for it all to start," Neil added. Comments soon followed, many of which came from disappointed fans. One wrote: "Oh that's a shame. I look forward to seeing you though and watching your Instagram Stories." Another said: "This is a huge mistake you would have been amazing." A third added: "Gutted, fingers crossed for next year." There was one person who was happy about the decision though. Neil's wife and fellow Strictly pro Katya Jones told her husband: "Thank God for that! I need someone cooking dinner and preparing baths for when I get home!!"
The Strictly pros met the celebrity contestants for the first time last week
The new Strictly series is expected to kick off on 8 September and the professional dancers have already been in training since the beginning of the month, along with a few new additions to the team. With Brendan Cole and Chloe Hewitt no longer taking part, new dancers Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe and Luba Mushtuk have been announced as new additions – meaning the total number of professional dancers will be higher than any previous year. Louise Rainbow, who is executive producer on Strictly, said at the time: "A huge thank you goes to Brendan from all of us for 15 amazing series of Strictly. We wish him all the very best with his future projects. We would also like to thank Chloe and wish her well."
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